HELENA – Abortion facilities would have to seek special licenses from the state under a bill before lawmakers that is pitting the usual abortion camps against one another.
Sponsored by Rep. Joel Boniek, R-Livingston, House Bill 661 would force abortion providers to undergo regular inspections in order to qualify for a license. It would also compel the Department of Public Health and Human Services to establish and enforce new standards for the facilities.
“The bottom line is that these folks that support abortion on demand say consistently that abortion should be both safe and rare,” said Jeff Laszloffy, spokesman for the Montana Family Foundation. “This bill gets to the safety of abortions.”
Members of the public and church leaders also spoke in favor of the measure, telling lawmakers it is needed to protect women.
But opponents argued abortion facilities already have to meet health and safety standards in order to protect their patients and employees.
“We believe that the bill singles out one type of medical procedure and thereby creates an undue burden on that procedure,” said Niki Zupanic, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Montana.
Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice also testified against special licensing.
The measure, heard by the House Judiciary Committee, is one of at least four other abortion measures that lawmakers have considered this session.
Two requiring constitutional amendments passed the Senate narrowly, but are not likely to muster enough votes for passage through the House. Another, SB327, passed the Senate smoothly. It aims to allow a charge of homicide if an unborn child dies in an attack on the mother, a legal change that abortion defenders worry could set a precedent for a ban on the procedure.
No action was taken on Boniek’s bill during the hearing Tuesday. If it passes the committee, it will move to the full House.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.